Italy president taps Berlusconi ally to try to break impasse

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has tapped the Senate president, a longtime supporter of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi, to explore possible alliances to create a governing majority in Parliament more than a month after Italy's inconclusive elections.

As leader of the Senate, Maria Elisabetta Casellati holds the second-highest position in Italy's governing institutions, making her the logical choice after two rounds of presidential-led consultations failed to break an impasse.

The two leading political blocks have failed to find agreement or even meet one-on-one. The leader of the populist 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, has refused to be part of any government that includes Berlusconi. Berlusconi's Forza Italia party is a significant power in the center-right bloc, which together controls 37 percent of the vote.

Casellati said Wednesday she'd quickly schedule consultations.